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  • Kevin Scarbinsky

Who are you, Hugh Freeze? Gus 2.0 or the real Saban slayer?

Is this really going to work? Is Hugh Freeze the football equivalent of Gus Malzahn 2.0? Or is he a more recruiting savvy facsimile who is going to succeed at Auburn in a way his friend did not?


The best answer to those questions may be the answer to a different inquiry. Will Freeze still be the coach at Auburn when Nick Saban retires?


If the answer is yes, it almost certainly will mean Freeze is not the man or the coach he used to be, and he is the man and the coach Athletics Director John Cohen and Dr. Chris Roberts need him to be.


If Auburn being Auburn is going to mean what Cohen described in his introductory press conference, a place where players win Heismans, teams win championships and peace and prosperity reign on the Plains, Freeze will have to be, in one crucial way, what Malzahn and Bryan Harsin were not.


An elite recruiter.


Freeze will have to make recruiting Job One every day he sits in that big office in that shiny new football complex. He has to attack it the way Saban and Kirby Smart do, not as a necessary chore but as the only way to compete with them - within the rules as they're employed, skirted or ignored today in an NIL world.


The biggest scandal of Malzahn's eight-year Auburn tenure as head coach was his inability or unwillingness to put a premium on offensive linemen. There is a story that Malzahn once told one of his best blockers that his offense could pile up yards and points behind a blocking sled. That story may be apocryphal in detail, but it is not hard to believe based on the results.


Everyone knows that Freeze put together an all-time great signing class at Ole Miss. It's also common knowledge that how he did it forced Ole Miss to vacate victories and Freeze to exit the premises in disgrace. If he was under a microscope there, he and Auburn are about to find themselves on the wrong end of a James Webb Space Telescope of scrutiny. ...


Read more of Kevin's first impression of Freeze to Auburn. Only in The Lede.


Hugh Freeze is introduced as the new Auburn football coach. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics)

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